Shooting video with wearable action cameras, such as the GoPro, is quickly becoming the most popular way to record sports or adventures. Thanks to technology, anyone with an action cam can capture stunning footage of their bike ride through the mountains or intense slo-mo shots as they fly through the sky on their snowboard.
However, creating awe inspiring footage is not as simple as turning your camera on when you go out for your morning run. From post production techniques to making the most of your camera angle, we’ve compiled our top 10 tips for creating amazing GoPro videos!
1) Get to the point
Sure, your mom might think that your two hour long trek through the Andes is fascinating to watch, but most of your audience won’t.
Try to limit your videos to under 5 minutes if uploading to a video sharing site, and even less than that if you’re putting it on social media. Your fans have a limited amount of time and they’re going to want to get right to that insane shot of you clearing a 20ft drop on your dirtbike, not watch the 30 minute footage of you riding to get there.
This is one of the most important tactics to remember and, luckily, one of the easiest to do. Most of your basic computer editing software will have an option to trim clips from your video until you’re left with just your best shots.
If you’re someone that’s always on the go, GoPro offers a smartphone app that lets you stream footage directly from your camera to your phone. You can trim your video easily using their intuitive touch screen setup. Simply click on the scissors icon and you’re done.
2) Slow things down
This might seem contrary to our previous tip, but moderation is key. Slow down certain parts of your footage to really accentuate that awesome kickflip you just pulled off!
With the right shot in the right setting with the right music, slow motion can take your video production from interesting to absolutely cinematic! Using slow motion can draw the viewer’s focus to the highlight of the footage and add a much more professional quality to your film.
You can do this by taking film you’ve shot at higher frame rates and slowing it down. If you’ve shot your video at 60fps, you can play that at half speed by slowing it down to 30fps.
Be aware however, playing back video in slow motion will work better the higher your frame rate is. Sports like snowboarding, surfing, and biking work well being recorded at high frame rates to slow down while low light recordings benefit from recording at 30fps.
This is a fairly popular editing technique that can be found on most video editing software, but if you find you need help figuring it out, Tim Ford has a great tutorial here.
3) Use a mount
GoPro has mounts available for every occasion. There are mounts for the top of your helmet, mounts to secure to your dog, mounts that will attach to your handlebars… The possibilities are endless and it’ll give you access to unique angles you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Bonus tip: If your mount doesn’t feel secure enough, use gaffer tape! It’ll give you peace of mind and allow you to use angles you might not have been able to get with just your mount. It will also reduce vibrations, which will give you a smoother video.
4) Use the fisheye lens to your advantage
The fisheye is one of the most popular effects in the film world, but not everyone knows how to use it.
Use the fisheye lens when you’re trying to capture a broad landscape. The wide lens will capture the beautiful view while bending the reflection inwards, which further immerses the viewer in the video.
Bonus tip: If you’re trying to capture yourself in the video along with the gorgeous landscape, use a camera pole, like the GoPro Grenade Grip! It will capture the video from arm’s length, allowing you to take center stage in the video without taking up the whole video.
5) Choose your resolution
Decide which resolution you want to use before you start shooting. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to shoot in 4k to get the best quality footage available, but do you really need it?
Think about what you want to do with your footage. If you plan to just upload the video to social media or show friends on your phone, shooting in 1080p is all you’ll need. If you want a more professional production, 4k will give you the highest image quality possible.
Here is a breakdown of the most popular resolutions:
- 480p: This is the resolution found on DVD’s. You will see some pixelation even on mobile devices.
- 720p: This is high definition quality and will deliver a sharp, crisp image on smaller screens.
- 1080p: This is the standard for HD on action cameras and televisions.
- 4k: Quickly becoming the new standard for video on TV and the web, 4k will give you 2 times the resolution compared to 1080p.
Don’t forget that the higher your resolution is, the more you have to compromise. If you’re shooting in 4k, for example, most GoPros will only support 24fps, 25fps, or 30fps due to the massive amount of data you will use.
When in doubt, we recommend shooting in 1080p. It will give you high quality footage while still allowing you to shoot at more reasonable frame rates.
6) Reduce camera shake
Nothing will have your viewers turning away faster than shaky video. Most activities that lend themselves to being recorded with GoPro cameras involve lots of motion, making it very difficult to keep the camera steady. Fortunately GoPro’s latest cameras, Hero5 and Hero6, include electronic image stabilization (EIS) to help minimize any camera shake.
While EIS is certainly an improvement over no image stabilization, if you are looking for cinematic quality a gimbal can be one of the best investments you can make. While EIS utilizes cropping and software to remove shake the from the video, a gimbal actually counteracts movement to provide smooth motion.
7) Keep your lens clean
It seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many would be videographers have their footage ruined because they were filming with a dirty lens.
Something as simple as a speck of dirt, a fingerprint, or a drop of water can be enough to ruin your golden moment.
8) Make the most out of your angles
When setting up your camera, make sure you use an angle that gives your audience the best vantage point possible. Will the viewer get a better idea of what’s going on in the basketball court if you attach your camera to a chest harness or should you attach it to the hoop backboard?
Keep in mind, you want to give your audience an intimate view of what’s going on that they wouldn’t have if they were just watching from the sidelines. Make it worth their while to watch.
One mistake many new videographers make is shooting all video from eye level. Explore different angles to find unique ways of viewing your surroundings. Explore shooting from waist height or lower to have a different perspective.
When in doubt, we recommend to film using as many angles as you can. Then, you can edit them together to make the most cohesive film possible in post production.
9) Get as close as possible
If you’re filming other people with your GoPro, get as close to them as possible. Because the GoPro uses wide lenses, this can make your subject look small and distant the farther you are, so it’s important you get up close to capture dynamic footage.
Also keep in mind that the GoPro’s built in microphone is not very powerful, so you’ll need to be in on the action if you want to capture natural sounds within the video.
10) Shoot with a story in mind
Saving our best tip for last: Shoot with a story in mind.
Before you begin filming, think about the story that you want to tell. Think about what will happen in the beginning, middle, and end.
By planning out your shoot beforehand, you will be able to record with a vision in mind. In doing so, you will save yourself lots of time when you start editing what you have shot. You’ll have cut down on the amount of unusable footage and the footage that you do have will be of much better quality.
Apart from saving you time post production, shooting with a story in mind will allow you to create a more cohesive video, which will then translate into a more powerful story.
At the end of the day, after all, we are storytellers and our viewers are here to watch our stories come to life.
Shoot with these tips in mind and watch the quality of your videos increase dramatically! And don’t forget to leave a comment telling us which tip helped you out the most!